Rapturous applause and cheers followed a spellbinding interpretation of Les Misérables last night - catch it if you can!
It was the opening evening of a three-night run as a teenage cast from Vision Youth Theatre tackled this spectacular, challenging, deeply moving musical under the direction of Drew Baker. The audience at Milford Haven’s Boulevard Theatre was treated to an outstanding production. Highly talented young Pembrokeshire actors rose to the challenge with enthusiasm and dedication.
Rhys Williams, playing Jean Valjean, bore his soul as the drama changed him from convict to mayor; thief to penitent; Hercules to old, dying man.
Morgan Lewis made a delightful Gavroche, capturing all the cheeky pluck that the role demands. Eva Rees played revolutionary Enjolras with a real spirit of fire and heroism. And when disaster struck at the barricade, both actors evoked poignant scenes. Similarly, in Jencyn Corp was revealed a multi-faceted Marius: dreamer, romantic, griever and hero.
In a nod to the West End production, cast members could be seen assembling the barricades that formed the backdrop to Act 2. With a diverse and colourful wardrobe, and some powerful lighting and sound effects, it was a credit to the crew.
All this would have been admirable enough, but what really elevated the performance to professional heights was the quality of singing that complemented the lavish score, with Clive Raymond conjuring up a whole orchestra with his intuitive keyboard accompaniment.
Many will be familiar with the popular song I Dreamed a Dream, but few will have experienced something as beautiful as hearing Georgie Rochester as Fantine. Every word was clear; every note true; every emotion tangible. It was heartbreaking!
Iestyn Finch was in every way Javert - the police inspector whose obsession with justice ultimately makes life unliveable; his rich-toned voice matching his upright deportment.
Mared Phillips (Cosette) hit the high notes, much to the audience’s appreciation, while the darker, melodic tones of Eliza Peach made her an appealing choice for Éponine.
Excelling West End and movie actors in their roles, Ethan Clancy and Claire Hooper-Rees proved perfect for innkeeper Thénardier and his wife. Ethan’s reedy vocal timbre was combined with comic delivery; while Claire avoided the trap of over-acting and gave Mme Thénardier a sweeter voice without jeopardising the character.
Les Misérables has a host of characters, so many members of the 20-strong cast found themselves in multiple roles. This was true of Bethan Raymond, who played the Bishop in the Prologue and yet whose pure, clarion voice could be heard in many later scenes. Likewise Charlotte Baxter, who had put in a very convincing performance as the Young Cosette in Act 1.
Les Misérables still has two more nights to run at Boulevard Theatre, Milford Haven. Don’t miss this remarkable production! Tickets are available from www.visionartswales.com